Saturday, June 18, 2016

Belfast to DownPatrick June 18, 2016

This morning we were greeted by a beautiful blue sky and bright sun.  It had all the makings of a great day on the bike.   The bikes had been cleaned and chains oiled so we were as set. 

The new route Jos and I had plotted the day before took us out through some very poor and rough sections of Belfast so I was glad we were rolling through them at an early hour.  There was a number of turns and twists but we found the bike path easy enough.  For the first while there were a lot of walkers and other bikes however they thinned out quickly and in no time we were out in the country.  The Combs Greenway worked great for getting us out of town.
Jos had arranged for Agnes to meet his wife Lynne and her mother Gladys for coffee in Grey Abbey and we were to join them.   It took almost an hour longer than Jos had origninally estimated however we did get there and it was very nice to see them.
After a quick visit we rolled down the street to see the Gray Abby which was built in the 1100’s.  The abbey operated for several hundred years before it was finally abandon.  All that remains is the huge stone walls.  However they are still impressive.  Buildings operating for several hundred years and today we abandon buildings after a few decades. 

We rolled down the road crossing from Strangford Lough across to the Irish sea.  It wasn’t quite clear enough to see the Ilse of Mann but it was pretty close.  We were just sailing along past quaint fishing villages and little towns.  It didn’t take any time to get down to Portaferry where you take the ferry across the Lough to Strangford.  As we approached the ferry we could see it was preparing to depart so we hustled down and made the ferry.  It is only about a 20 minute crossing but if you miss it you have to wait an hour. 

Making the ferry had its downside as there wasn’t much for lunch on the Strangford side and we had to make do with some really bad premade sandwiches out of a Spar store.  However we were all hungry as it was already 1:00 PM. 

We continued on down towards Downpatrick with only a few kilometers to go when the rear shifter on Kens bike let go and the bike went into the smallest gear on the rear cassette.  His bike has an old style Sram indexed bar end shifter and the whole assembly was loose. So we tightened it up and headed into Downpatrick where we found a bike shop and had it worked on.  They tightened the assembly and adjusted the tension in the shift cable. It seems to be working.  

We were off course but knew how to find the B&B where we are staying tonight.  The Inch School B&B is a 100 year old school house which has been converted to a B&B. It is beautiful old stone building.  Of course 100 years seems to be nothing as we had supper in a café and bar called Denvir’s which is in a building constructed in the 1300’s and has been in operation since 1642.  Then we drove up to see St Patrick’s Cathedral where he is buried. and there is a stone cross dating to 900 AD. 

Today was another great day on the bikes.  We covered 92 kms and climbed  671 meters, rode down a tree lined bike path, got to met Lynne’s mother Gladys, took a ferry ride, and saw a lot of beautiful green hills. It just doesn’t get any better.


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